Let’s Not Talk

Deliciously icy comment by the Guardian’s resident Ice Queen, Marina Hyde, on New Labour’s latest fatuous idea. Sample:

In TS Eliot’s poetry, “the moment in the rose garden” came to symbolise a sublimely rare instant of visionary experience, that fleeting moment in which the eternal and the temporal meet, and the universe and one’s place in it seem to make intensely profound, intuitive sense.

Tony Blair had a moment in the rose garden the other day. Or rather what is tactfully known, in the parlance of our times, as a “moment”.

According to Downing Street insiders, it was in the No 10 rose garden that the PM chose to break the news to Charles Clarke that his desk was in the lift. Not only were Blair’s eyes said to be “red and tearful” as he escorted the former home secretary back to the house, but at one point – according to these curtain-twitching insiders – he was forced to break away from Clarke and go into a corner of the garden with his “head in his hands”.

Now, I do not dispute the import of this moment. But if I found my lachrymose self taking refuge in the shrubbery to hide my anguish at having to lose an overpromoted, incompetent bully like Charles Clarke, I feel sure I would suddenly, in a moment quite blinding in its profundity, be struck with the sense that it would not be long before my political (and probably psychological) number was up, and I would be shunted off to the great borrowed villa in the sky. …

As things stand, however, one suspects the prime minister understood his moment in the rose garden rather less fully than Eliot did his. Yesterday, he launched a new initiative that is designed to seize back control of the domestic policy agenda, with a new pledge to rescue public services, notably the criminal justice system. The name of this drive? Let’s Talk.

Let’s Not and Say We Did.

It is difficult to conceive of another name that would reflect so totally the lack of ideas left in the Blairite locker. In fact, Let’s Talk sounds like nothing so much as the ITV2 spin-off show to that earlier triumph of public badinage, The Big Conversation (which anyway nicked its name off a management-consultant-inspired BBC away-day)…